Bangladesh has made great improvements in the scale and quality of access to education in recent years and gender equality has almost been achieved in primary education (World Bank, 2008). Evidence from CREATE’s nationwide community and school survey (ComSS) confirms results from other research (such as Al-Samarrai, 2009) which suggests that poverty remains a barrier to education for many in Bangladesh, where 40% of the population remain below the poverty line (World Bank, 2009). The ComSS data suggest that policies that have been introduced to enable the poor to attend school such as free schooling; subsidised schoolbooks and stipends for the poor to attend school are not accurately targeted or having the desired effects. Targeted assistance for sections of society who are denied access to education in what is meant by equity in this paper. This goes beyond equal opportunity and seeks justice for those who have been left out.
In this monograph we describe the influence of poverty (measured by income and food security) on indicators of access to education covered by CREATE’s conceptual model, such as children who drop out of school, children who have never enrolled, silent exclusion (measured through poor attendance, poor attainment and repetition). These relationships show a pattern of a series of interrelated links between poverty and exclusion from education. While the links between physical exclusion from education (never having been to school or dropping out of school) and poverty are relatively easy to understand, it is harder to understand why poor children who are in school do worse and repeat more than their peers from wealthier households. We explore correlations between indicators of silent exclusion from education and health, access to adequate school materials and the type of school attended. What we find is that those who have poor health, lack basic school equipment and live in the catchment areas of non-government schools (who are also often the poor) are more likely to be silently excluded – that is enrolled and overage, poorly attending or poorly achieving. Using this detailed data we identify policies that will have the greatest effect on improving access to education for those currently out of school and those in school but not learning.
Altaf Hossain and B. Zeitlyn. Poverty and Equity: Access to Education in Bangladesh. In: CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 51. (2010) 1-38. ISBN 0-901881-58-9